We’ve got 15 USL Championship games slated for tonight – including a rematch of the 2019 Western Conference Final, a clash between the top two teams in Group B, and a meeting of two group leaders in the Eastern Conference – and then a matchup between Florida rivals to close out the weekend. Here’s your Morning Tea for Saturday.
Since he arrived at El Paso Locomotive FC last year, Josue Aaron Gomez has been one of the most effective attackers in the USL Championship.
But you shouldn’t expect the El Paso native to be the one to tell you.
As noted this week by the El Paso Times’ Bret Bloomquist, Gomez has a reputation as one of the quietest players on the team that gladly passes off credit to coaches and teammates around him.
“The coach trains us very well, he tells us how to do things, we do what he says and we try to do it,” Gomez told Bloomquist. “We’ve had good results with the high press and keeping possession. We want to keep with that same style as we are going down a good path.
“I think training every day with a lot of energy and the right attitude, it has been great that I’ve been able to get the goals.”
Gomez arrived in El Paso a season ago on loan from Borderplex neighbor FC Juarez, which after earning promotion is currently competing in Liga MX. After finding the net last week in Locomotive FC’s 4-2 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, he’s scored 11 goals in 15 starts for the side, and overall is averaging a goal every 125.7 minutes in the Championship’s regular season.
That puts him in some pretty good company. Among those that have scored at least 10 goals since the start of the 2019 regular season, Gomez is close to the strike rate of players like two-time All-League selection Daniel Rios, now with Nashville SC in Major League Soccer, and a fraction behind former Real Monarchs SLC forward Douglas Martinez (117.8 mins/goal) and Phoenix Rising FC’s Junior Flemmings (121.5 mins/goal).
“I think he's brilliant, I think Aarón is a fantastic player,” Locomotive FC Head Coach Mark Lowry told Bloomquist. “Not just his goals, not just his quality on the ball, but the way he works, the way he runs, the fight. He gives everything he's got every time out.
“He's a player who deserves all the credit, all the plaudits, all the goals because he is a fantastic forward because he gives himself to the team. He's not selfish, he's not up there thinking about goals for himself, he's not up there not running around, he works for the team.”
Gomez could have a big role to play in one of Saturday night’s key games in the Championship. El Paso travels to face Real Monarchs SLC in the first meeting between the teams since the 2019 Western Conference Final at Zion’s Bank Stadium with crucial points in the race for the playoffs in Group C of the Championship on the line.
If he can add to his already impressive tally, it could help El Paso take another strong step forward toward a playoff place. Certainly, his mindset seems to be in the right place for success.
“I'm very relaxed, very happy and we have to keep working,” he told Bloomquist.
- USL President Jake Edwards spoke with the Tampa Bay Times’ Kyle Wood about the resumption of the Championship season and start of USL League One’s second year over the past month, and the overall success the league has found in keeping players and staff safe while returning to action in home markets across the country.
- Andrew Tinari has exchanged his native New York for the scenery of New Mexico this season and is starting to make the sort of impact in the middle of the New Mexico United midfield he had for the Red Bulls II and Tampa Bay Rowdies. Beautiful Game Network’s Carson Merk caught up with him ahead of a key game with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
- The College of Charleston has proven a useful recruiting ground for the Charleston Battery over the years. One of the more recent players to make the jump to the professional ranks in the city was Leland Archer, who the Charleston Post & Courier’s Andrew Miller writes has emerged into a key figure on the Battery back line in his third season at the club after the departures of other veterans.
- Memphis 901 FC has been working with a sense of urgency this week after its loss to North Carolina FC last weekend. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Corinne Kennedy looked ahead to a crucial game on the road tonight that sees 901 FC take on the Charlotte Independence.
- With Loudoun United FC buoyed by its first win of the season in midweek, Louisville City FC is expecting a tough contest from its visitors to Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday. The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Dominique Yates has more on the matchup.
- A back-up for much of his career so far, Rafael Diaz is making the most of his opportunity to step into the starting lineup for Sacramento Republic FC. After three consecutive shutouts, Indomitable City Soccer’s Alicia Rodriguez took a look at the native of the Dominican Republic.
- After coming up through the Toronto FC system, midfielder Aidan Daniels took a diversion to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to try and forge forward in his career. The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Vinny Benedetto spoke to the 21-year-old about what he hopes to prove this season and moving forward.